Step Count Challenge – Special Collections Division of the University of St Andrews Library

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University Library Special Collections staff walking for the Step Count Challenge

Do you remember last week? The week before spring sprung? I do. It was cold, windy and wet. Naturally such a dismal Monday evening was ideal for the Special Collections step count challenge teams to traverse St Andrews with the Mediaeval St Andrews App – download from Google Play, apple place etc.

The app is good – let’s get that straight from the outset, we had no problem with the app. Except that our fingers were so cold, our screens so wet and our enthusiasm so abundantly dampened by the vile weather that hanging around places of interest and discovering its meaning and place in history seemed somewhat foolish.

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It was cold, look at our pinched faces.

However I tried, I truly tried, to impart some of my (meagre) knowledge of Mediaeval St Andrews to my fellow perambulators. As I gleefully pointed out the crest of David I on the Westport, my friends had gone: shoulders hunched against the drizzle and hands rammed into pockets against the cold. I scurried afterwards, eager to point out the civic growth and early town planning – learning that was drummed into me during ME3309 here in the University just a couple of years ago. But the soil was barren and my seeds of knowledge fell, unloved and ignored. Crestfallen and tearful I consoled myself with the knowledge that precious steps were being stepped and that my daily target was already surpassed.

As we passed the mediaeval rigs on the back of the South Street residences I tried again, the mediaeval good life being explained and expounded. But, again, my words fell on deaf (and above all damp) ears. Even the modern allure of technology in the shape of the excellent app was not enough to rekindle any interest in the breath-taking history all around us.

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See how interested they all are, see how sulky I am.

But then, by the Cathedral, salvation was seemingly at hand. The pioneering spirit of Canada – in the shape of Rachel Nordstrom – arrived from a trip to Edinburgh and said “Tell me, tell me everything!” But it was too late, I was sulking. Sulking and cold. A few muttered and desultory remarks about the pilgrims arriving in the harbour area, potential leper hospitals and the Culdees (Ceili De) were about all I could muster.

Until that is, the realisation that we were about to enter the Whey Pat Tavern en masse. A late burst of enthusiasm allowed me to give a potted history of the religion that had so shaped the town; emanated outwards from the Cathedral and culminated in the friaries on the western edges of the town. But then it was gone, as swiftly as it had arrived. The Whey Pat beckoned, Dark Island was available and haggis nachos were forthcoming.

We bonded, we apped, we were weathered, we (I) sulked, we drank: but above all, we walked.

-Trevor Ledger
Lawrence Levy Collection Cataloguer

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